|Taft's Tamarik Washington|
When you walk into a gym on a Friday night all you can hope for is a close game and a high intensity atmosphere. Hughes and Taft sure brought the best of both worlds in those departments on Friday night at Taft’s downtown campus. With early placing in the CMAC standings at stake, the two teams battled back and forth all game long. Hughes controlled the first and third quarters, but in addition to the second quarter, Taft won the most important quarter, the fourth.
Taft 70 Hughes 67
Senators coach Mark Mitchell is what you would describe as a risk taker. With only one minute to play and his team down 67-63, Mitchell put in junior guard Semaj Stevens (who had only played about two minutes earlier). That last minute of play was all Taft, and Stevens was one of the key reasons. After Taft junior guard Marcus Scott converted a four point play to tie the game the Senators got a steal and Stevens found himself at the foul line for the chance to put Taft back ahead. Stevens made one free throw, then came up with another loose ball off of a Hughes turnover and scored a layup with just two seconds left to give Taft a three point win.
The Big Red held the lead for most of the game, but turnovers down the stretch, missed free throws and foul trouble cost them in the end. After a dispute with the official score book, Angel Rivera was sent to the bench with less than a minute left after receiving what was ruled his fifth foul.
Both teams proved that they’re upper echelon CMAC teams, and that as we expected it’s going to be a competitive year in the city league.
Taft was led by the 15 points off of the bench by junior guard Tamarik Washington, and the 11 points of junior power forward Robert Smith. The Senators also got 8 points from Scott, 8 points from junior guard Antonio Gibson, 6 points from junior guard Kenny Kaufman, 6 points from junior wing Keron Harris and strong contributions on the defensive end from DeAndre Smith and Devon Matthews.
The game was billed as the first matchup between Aaron Oden, a junior combo guard for Taft and the Senators most talented player, against his old school, Hughes. Oden was aggressive in attacking the rim in the first half, but missed the entire second half after sustaining a concussion going for a loose ball late in the half. Oden finished with 5 points in the Taft win.
Hughes got a game high 18 points off of the bench from a sharpshooting Mike Collins, who hit several big shots to keep Hughes in the game late in the third when the Senators were making a run. The Big Red also got 13 points from athletic junior power forward Dwight Nared, 12 points from their senior point guard Angel Rivera, and 9 points off of the bench from talented junior wing Derrick Long.
One of the reasons that Taft came out on top was because they were able to limit the Big Red’s second and third best offensive players (behind Angel Rivera) in Terry Cook and Kevin Daniels to just a combined 8 points in the loss.
Overall, this was one of the better CMAC games that CPHR has been to in the last couple of years, and it really set the tone for what’s to come in the remainder of the year. Taft did make one thing clear, you better control your home court if you plan on being a champion.